The Chicago Bears are bracing for the possibility they will be without kicker Cairo Santos when they play the New York Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Santos was excused from Thursday’s practice for personal reasons and was not spotted when Friday’s short practice was open for media viewing. Multiple sources said the team scheduled a tryout for specialists on Friday, meaning the Bears could be considering a potential replacement for Santos.
The Bears listed Santos as questionable on their injury report Friday.
Santos made field goals from 47 and 50 yards before hitting the 30-yarder on the final play of a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans last Sunday at Soldier Field. He’s 4-for-4 on field goals on the season and rebounded from two missed extra points during a driving rainstorm in the Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
He set a franchise record in 2020 when he made 30-of-32 field goal attempts (93.8%), earning a $9 million, three-year contract. Santos followed it up by going 26-of-30 on field goals in 2021.
If Santos doesn’t play, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower will also need a replacement on kickoffs. It’s a chore Santos split in preseason with punter Trenton Gill, so it’s possible the rookie would handle those duties. Overall, Santos has made 89.7% of his field goals since joining the team for a second stint in 2020, taking the job when Eddy Pineiro was sidelined by injury.
The Bears had punter James Smith in for a tryout Thursday along with long snapper Mitchell Fraboni. Smith was likely in because he kicks with his left foot. Giants punter Jamie Gillan is left-footed and it is not uncommon for teams to want their returners to get reps catching balls from left-footed kickers to get accustomed to the spin. That workout would not seem to involve Santos’ situation.
On the sideline and not participating when media viewed practice Friday were cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad), tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) and defensive back Dane Cruikshank (hamstring). Johnson was injured in practice last week and will potentially miss his second consecutive game. Johnson and Cruikshank were ruled out for the Week 4 game.
Not spotted was running back David Montgomery (ankle), who has not practiced this week and was ruled out. That means Khalil Herbert, fresh off a 157-yard effort with two touchdowns against the Texans, will be the primary ball carrier Sunday.
Defensive end Robert Quinn, who was out Thursday with an illness, was on the field and listed as questionable on the injury report.